Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff
MDRC staff members have been working on a multi-year collaborative grant from the Office of Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice. Through that work, all of our staff has become more familiar with the services and supports available from the domestic violence/sexual assault prevention and support community. People with disabilities experience sexual assault and domestic violence at a higher rate than the general population and these violations can also lead to disability.
How does this all relate to assistive technology (AT)?
In a variety of ways:
- Perpetrators may withhold people with disabilities’ access to assistive technology they need as a means of control.
- Perpetrators may monitor conversations of people with disabilities, especially people who are Deaf and use communication devices. This is another means of control.
- Many shelters are not accessible and need to develop ways to help people with disabilities access AT when they flee a situation.
- Sexual Assault and domestic violence program staff may not be aware or capable of assisting people with disabilities who have intellectual, processing, or communication disabilities due to their own lack of knowledge and skills. Access to assistive technology can help.
- Apps for PTSD can be useful to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. For example, I am a sexual abuse survivor and use T2 Mood Tracker to monitor my symptoms, Gratitude! for mindfulness and PTSD Coach.
- There are apps and devices for safety like Circle of 6 which lets you send out messages to your friends like “come get me” and gives your GPS location. Circle of 6 also can connect you to resources. There is also Cuff, a jewelry-device that in addition to tracking your steps and location, can be used to call for help.
- Survivors who are Deaf and hard of hearing need to know their rights and the systems of help available. Some communication and relay systems keep transcripts of conversations automatically unless the user specifically requests that they don’t. Perpetrators have also impersonated Deaf survivors through electronic communication methods so shelters and survivors may want to develop codes phrases.
Do you know about domestic violence and sexual assault services in your community? Are they accessible? Have they done an accessibility audit? Are they welcoming and able to serve people with all types of disabilities?
A series of webinars on disability and domestic violence/sexual assault is coming up. Put on by VERA Institute of Justice Center on Victimization and Safety, these webinars cover social media and people with disabilities and safety and the ins and outs of AT for people with disabilities and safety. Below are descriptions, dates and links to register.
Engaging People with Disabilities Through Social Media
June 14, 2016
2:00-3:30 pm ET
Do you use social media in your prevention or intervention work? Learn what a group in Austin, Texas found when they initiated a project to explore social media use in their community.
Working with Survivors with Disabilities: Understanding Tech Misuse & Online Privacy
June 30, 2016
2:00-3:30 pm ET
When is technology an advantage and when can it be dangerous? Learn from the experts at the National Network to End Domestic Violence as they present about the safety implications you should consider when using social media in your work.
The In’s and Out’s of Safety and Assistive Technology
July 12, 2016
2:00-3:30 pm ET
During this presentation, participants will learn about common assistive technology devices, ways that abusers may use those devices to compromise safety, and how to promote the safe usage of assistive technologies.
Join us as we fight domestic violence and sexual assault and raise awareness of AT.Tweet
Very very important topic. We are learning so much and I am proud of MDRC’s work on this. Great resources.